A fast moving early morning fire damaged a dozen homes in the city’s Germantown section. Authorities say the fire broke at about 3:30 a.m. in the 2100 block of Furley Street. One home was completely gutted by the flames and six others were damaged by the fire. Authorities say another five homes received smoke and water damage. Families on the street were safely evacuated from the homes and no injuries were reported. The Red Cross is providing aid and shelter to the displaced families. At this time, officials say the fire appears to have been intentional, but the cause remains under investigation.
IT GETS BETTER:
First of all, there was NO job action like the Commissioner said. Since the Mayor and Fire Commissioner embarked on a plan to use cuts in emergency services to save money, they used overtime as a straw man to divert the public’s attention from what is really going on. They said that the firefighters and their union were only upset because we were losing overtime. That is utter and complete nonsense. In fact, we work overtime because there are too many vacant positions in the department. The vacancies exist because the department hasn’t had a new class in two years. We lose people every month through attrition and they aren’t replaced. Promotions are also slow and frequently held up because of “diversity” issues. Same goes with hiring new classes. Plus we are at the height of the vacation season. What do you do – close the fire department because guys need a vacation with their family?
Firefighters are SUPREMELY devoted to their jobs if nothing else. NOTHING closes a firehouse as long as it can physically be occupied. Not blizzards, floods, heat waves. Through it all our guys show up for work. But the Commissioner’s and Mayor’s remarks were aimed at the hearts of the same firefighters they profess to care about. Trying to say we care more about our wallets than public safety is an insult that goes beyond the pale. If that was the case NONE OF US WOULD BE IN THIS JOB.
So this week for one day, to illustrate a point about overtime, many firefighters decided to “just say no” and turn down overtime offers, yours truly included. Many guys attended a memorial ceremony for a fallen firefighter held on Wednesday. Others like me used the day to spend some quality time with the family as summer slips away and the real east coast fire season starts.
Since so many guys decided NOT TO WORK OVERTIME, the department ORDERED about ten firefighters to stay and work. They were FORCED to work overtime. What does that tell you? In addition TWO EXTRA FIRE COMPANIES WERE BROWNED OUT. That’s in addition to many guys who accepted the overtime in the Medic Units. This decision to decline overtime was a grass-roots effort by rank and file firefighters who are sick and tired of City and Department officials making their jobs more dangerous and then blaming them. No raises, poor equipment, insane policies and harsh unreasonable discipline are taking their toll. The firefighters in this city are as professional as they come and answer 300,000 emergency calls a year. The City has already closed SEVEN companies. Who takes up that slack? Look around your place of employment and count off seven people. Then imagine trying to conduct business as usual without them.
This city may have lost population but it hasn’t lost geography or density. The population left is largely economically and socially dependent. These people depend on the fire and EMS services and we deliver. Former Fire Commissioner Hairston actually makes a lot of sense when he talks about reorganization. The city has changed and some changes to the department are inevitable but no one in the rank and file has confidence in this administration to carry out such a plan competently. As we have seen with the seven companies closed, fire protection loses out to politics and in the emergency services business… there is no room for politics.